Why Teachers Need Classes Too

05/31/2013 12:25 EDT | Updated 07/30/2013 05:12 EDT
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Preschool: Young smiling teacher discussing with group of children. Learning and having fun. Selective focus to teacher and cute little girl.

The P.E.I. Department of Education has made a recommendation to the province to "up" the number of days for teacher professional development. This means that teachers in my province will be given more days during the school calendar year than in times prior, during which they will engage in learning and best teaching practices. To this I say: it's about time.

As this has been the practice in other provinces and other education systems the world over. And added to this is the probability that it will be a win-win for teachers and students alike. Teachers who are given the opportunity to expand their knowledge base and increase their understanding of educating and teaching youth often leads to students who will in return benefit from the trickle down. Time and time again, teacher learning and best teaching practice has been found to correlate with student learning and achievement. And there are studies to prove it.

You'd think everyone would be happy.

But as with any institutional change and revamp to an accepted system of practice, the prevalent thought amongst the public discussion boards for the Island's evening television news program ranges from "why fix it if it ain't broke" to "if I can't have it, you shouldn't have it either" to "this is inconvenient thus I don't like it."

What a shame.

Because it is the students who have the most to gain. Teaching, after all, is about the children. And when I think of teaching, of educating and learning, I think of leading. Growing. Inspiring. I think of change. And with or without those PD days. This I know. I was born for this.

I was born to this calling.

Was born for such a time as this, for such a time as now. For such a time as five days a week, from 9-4. And then, for such a time as even more than boxed-in hours. For late nights and early mornings.

I was born for this.

I was born to be that friendly, cheerful face -- to greet those precious children of all ages with a welcoming smile. A warm hug. An inquiring question. A thoughtful comment or two.

Was born to hold chubby little hands, to look intently into blue-eyed baby faces. To hear their sweet and innocent stories. To hear stories not so simple, of lives more complicated than my own. To hear stories told that bring me to my knees. That haunt me in my waking hours. That propel me to advocate for change.

I was born for this. For opening up milk cartons. Cutting yogurt packages into a slit at the top. Passing out pizza slices. Issuing band-aids. Umpteen-dozen band-aids each and every day.

I was born to look at "owies" -- with a professional's eye.

Was born to read books -- piles and piles of glorious books. To read them with expression, passion and joie de vivre! To saturate the room with them. To buy them by the dozen! To relish children's laughter as I read favorites again and again.

I was born for this.

I was born to find joy in everyday pleasures. To find joy in the mundane, the ordinary. Joy. In reciting the alphabet, counting to twenty and playing with play-doh. In watching the weather and growing bean plants and using scented markers. In playing with puppets and using brand-new crayons.

I was born for this too.

Was born to fight for the underdog, to defend the rights of the under-privileged. To hear the stories and not turn away. To look into hearts and ask the difficult questions.

I was born for even this.

I was born to do hard things. To make tough calls. To follow through. To see a story through to its ending. To never give up.

To always hope. To always protect. To always believe.

I was born for all this.

I was born to not go down quietly. To be a loud voice, if need be. To shout it from the roof-tops or whisper it in the quiet of a room. I was born for this, for even this.

I was born to be a builder of blocks, a builder of lives. A mender of hearts -- a champion of dreams.

I was born to teach. To be the teacher. And true. It has not always been the easiest space I've ever inhabited , nor has it always been the most pleasant. But it has been one of the most rewarding. Because the joy I have found in giving and receiving, in knowing and in learning. In understanding. It is unmatched in nearly any other act of service I have ever done, apart from being a mother to my four precious children.

Because I was born to nurture, love and care. Was born to inspire. To challenge and motivate. I was born for this.

I was born to teach. And for those of us who were born to this calling, it is a slander to our life's vocation when we are called out and verbally beaten for simply wanting to know more and do more within our profession. For wanting the opportunity to explore the possibilities for growth within the classroom. And that is what professional development really means: growth. It is the reason why we have been given these additional PD days.

And it's a shame the naysayers cannot see the heart of the teacher behind the catchy news headlines and dollar signs. That they cannot see:we're in it for the children.